With a little help from our friends
By Robby Stern
During this holiday season, we will be asking our members to help us fight Wall Street and the politicians and ideologues who are manufacturing this so-called “fiscal cliff” crisis. They are attacking our earned benefits from Social Security and Medicare and seeking to cut Medicaid and other programs vital to the welfare of the majority of the American people. It is yet another example of what author Naomi Klein terms “Shameless Disaster Capitalism”.
These programs did not create the deficit .The deficit our federal government is facing was created by the Bush tax cuts, by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by the Wall Street-created recession. It can be resolved by ending the tax cuts for the wealthy and launching a robust jobs creation program.
By using the right-wing language of “entitlements” (rather than earned benefits), those who created the deficit now want to lay its cause at the door-step of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs necessary to the vast majority of the people.
Could we have a more efficient and less costly health care system in our country? You bet we could! If we want to lower the cost of health care and make it more efficient, why not recognize health care as a human right and create Medicare for all? Universal coverage would lead to a far more cost-effective system. But that is not the direction the politicians are going. We will work to change their direction.
By the time you receive this newsletter, you will have been asked to call your Congressional Representative and two U.S. Senators with the message that we want them to end the tax cuts for the richest 2% and to oppose benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. We will ask you to call multiple times because repetition is effective. The calls will take at most, 10 minutes.
We will also be planning street action with a large coalition of organizations. Please join us under the PSARA banner when the time comes.
The end of the elections signals a new time of mobilization and action.
Getting ready for the 2013 legislative session
At our annual legislative conference, PSARA adopted our priorities for the 2013 legislative session, We have our lobbyist, PSARA member Pam Crone and her partner, PSARA member Nancy Sapiro, ready to assist us on a day-to-day basis in Olympia.
Our priorities include:
- Support the raising of increased revenue to preserve Washington’s fiscal strength; promote economic growth and opportunity; protect essential services and jobs; fund quality education; and ensure that the state can meet its pension obligations.
- A critical Supreme Court decision will soon determine whether requiring a two-thirds majority to raise revenue is constitutional. If the Supreme Court decision finds the two-thirds requirement unconstitutional, it will still be challenging to raise revenue but it is attainable.
- Establish a State Investment Trust (state bank). The revenue the state raises by taxes and fees should be deposited in a state-owned account rather than in a private commercial bank like Bank of America (the present depository). Similar to the North Dakota State Bank, the Washington State Investment Trust would allow the people of our state to benefit from the income produced by the deposits. It would provide resources to invest in infrastructure, creating jobs and generating new revenue for Washington. This is a multi-year fight and PSARA will give it support.
- Support the Healthy Washington Coalition legislative priorities for progressive implementation of the Affordable Care Act. We will advocate for the full Medicaid expansion up to 138% of the federal poverty level. This will lead to health care coverage for more than 250,000 additional residents.
- We will also join the Healthy Washington Coalition in supporting programs that will provide quality coverage for low-income working families, such as the Federal Basic Health Option, sponsored by Senator Cantwell as part of the Affordable Care Act.
- This session will be critical for the creation of the Washington State Health Care Exchange. We will join with the Healthy Washington Coalition to insist that all private insurers, whether they choose to be part of the Exchange or not, help fund the administrative costs of the the Exchange.
- Finally, we will support the state legislative priorities of the Caring Across Generations campaign, including restoring cuts and supporting new investments in home care; ensuring all workers are able to take leave to take care of the health care needs of their families through Paid Sick days and Family Leave Insurance; and supporting legislation that facilitates immigrants playing the critical role of caregivers and domestic workers.
Our Legislative Conference also supported legislative efforts to create safe staffing standards in our hospitals, as well as the creation of a licensed dental practitioner – a new kind of dental provider that can enhance dental care the same way physician assistants and nurse practitioners have diversified the field of medicine.
This is a robust legislative agenda. When the session begins in January, we will have more articles about what is happening in the Olympia and what we can do to get the best results for PSARA members and all Washington residents.